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Before we begin, I have a few preliminary announcements. First, Members may remove their jackets during Committee meetings. Please will all Members ensure that mobile phones, pagers and so on are turned off or switched to silent mode during Committee meetings. Document boxes are provided for Members to keep their Bill papers in between meetings. It would be much appreciated if Members could return the boxes to the cupboard at the end of the meeting.
As a general rule, I and my fellow Chair do not intend to call starred amendments which have not been tabled with adequate notice. The required notice period in Public Bill Committees is three working days. Therefore, amendments should be tabled by the rise of the House on Monday for consideration on Thursday and by the rise of the House on Thursday for consideration on Tuesday. Not everyone is familiar with the procedure in Public Bill Committees so it might help if I briefly explain how we will proceed.
The Committee will first be asked to consider the programme motion on the amendment paper, debate on which is limited to half an hour. We will then proceed to a motion to report written evidence. Then we will begin line-by-line consideration of the Bill. The selection list for today’s sitting, which is available in the room, shows how the amendments selected have been grouped together for debate. Amendments grouped together are generally on the same or a similar and related issue. The Member who has put their name to the leading amendment in the group is called first. Other Members are then free to catch my eye in order to speak to the amendments in that group. A Member may speak more than once, depending on the subject under discussion.
At the end of the debate on a group of amendments, I will call the Member who moved the lead amendment again. Before sitting down, they will need to indicate whether they wish to withdraw the amendment or to seek a decision on it. If any Member wishes to press any other amendment in the group to a Division, they need to let me know. I will work on the assumption that the Government wish the Committee to reach a decision on all Government amendments. Please note that decisions on amendments take place not in the order in which they are debated but in the order in which they appear on the amendment paper.
Where the group includes clause stand part, Members should make any remarks they wish about the clause during the debate on the group and there will then be no separate debate on the question that the clause should stand part of the Bill. Where it is not already indicated on the selection list, Mr Amess and I will use our discretion to decide whether to allow a separate stand part debate on individual clauses or a separate debate on schedules. Clause stand part debates begin with the Chair proposing the question. There is no need for anyone to move that the clause stand part of the Bill.
I call the Minister to move the programme motion agreed by the Programming Sub-Committee.
I beg to move
(1) the Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 8.55 am on Tuesday 23
(a) at 2.00 pm on Tuesday 23 April;
(b) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 25 April;
(c) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 16 May;
(d) at 9.10 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 21 May;
(e) at 9.10 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 4 June;
(f) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 6 June;
(g) at 9.10 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 11 June;
(h) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 13 June;
(i) at 9.10 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 18 June;
(j) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 20 June.
(2) proceedings on consideration of the Bill in Committee shall be taken in the following order: Clause 2; Clauses 4 to 7; Schedule 1; Clauses 8 to 14; Schedule 2; Clause 15; Clause 17; Schedule 4; Clause 18; Schedule 5; Clause 19; Schedule 6; Clause 20; Schedule 7; Clauses 21 to 24; Schedule 8; Clause 25; Schedule 9; Clause 26; Schedule 10; Clause 27; Schedule 11; Clause 28; Schedule 12; Clauses 29 to 33; Schedule 13; Clause 34; Schedule 14; Clause 35; Schedules 15 to 17; Clauses 36 to 38; Schedule 18; Clauses 39 to 41; Schedule 19; Clauses 42 to 45; Schedule 20; Clauses 46 and 47; Schedule 21; Clauses 48 to 54; Schedule 22; Clauses 55 to 63; Schedule 23; Clauses 65 to 71; Schedule 25; Clause 72; Schedule 26; Clauses 73 and 74; Schedule 27; Clauses 75 and 76; Schedule 28; Clauses 77 to 86; Schedule 29; Clauses 87 to 90; Schedule 30; Clauses 91 to 160; Schedule 31; Clauses 161 and 162; Schedule 32; Clauses 163 to 166; Schedule 33; Clauses 167 to 172; Clause 64 and Schedule 24; Clauses 173 and 174; Schedule 34; Clauses 175 to 182; Clauses 185 to 188; Schedule 35; Clauses 189 and 190; Schedule 36; Clauses 191 to 193; Schedule 37; Clause 194; Schedule 38; Clause 195; Schedule 39; Clauses 196 to 198; Schedule 40; Clause 199; Clause 213; Schedule 42; Clauses 214 and 215; Schedule 43; Clause 216; Schedule 44; Clause 217; Schedule 45; Clauses 218 to 221; Schedule 46; Clauses 222 to 226; Schedule 47; Clause 227; Schedule 48; Clauses 228 to 230; Schedule 49; Clauses 231 and 232; new Clauses other than those relating to tax measures concerning housing and first appearing on the Order Paper not later than Tuesday 16 April or relating to value added tax or the bank levy or air passenger duty or the subject matter of Clauses 1 and 16 and Schedule 3 or the subject matter of Clause 3 or the subject matter of Clauses 203 to 212 and Schedule 41; new Schedules other than those relating to value added tax or the bank levy or air passenger duty or the subject matter of Clauses 1 and 16 and Schedule 3 or the subject matter of Clause 3 or the subject matter of Clauses 203 to 212 and Schedule 41; remaining proceedings on the Bill;
(3) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 5.00 pm on Thursday 20 June.
I should like to say a few words at the beginning of our proceedings. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Crausby. May I also welcome your co-Chairman, Mr Amess. I know both of you are familiar with the impassioned debate that the Finance Bill often generates. I trust that your experience and wisdom will guide us in the coming weeks, if not months, to keep us focused on the matters in hand. May I also welcome the Clerks and Hansard reporters who will be assisting us greatly in the weeks ahead.
It is also a great pleasure that we can look forward to the enthusiastic participation of Opposition Members. I am particularly pleased that we will once again have the benefit of three shadow Ministers in the coming debates. We look forward to hearing their contributions, I fear at some length. They will be ably assisted by their hon. Friends, many of whom spoke eloquently in the debates last week, and one or two of whom have previously taken part in Finance Bill Committee debates. We look forward to their contributions.
I welcome new members of the Committee who have joined the House more recently, and in particular the hon. Members for Cardiff South and Penarth and for Middlesbrough. I look forward, too, to hearing from my hon. Friends—whose contributions are to be judged mainly by quality, not necessarily quantity. I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley has once again escaped membership of the library committee, and will bring his expertise, and occasionally independent views, to the deliberations. I welcome, also, as a new Member, my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh.
I said in Committee last year that the Bill before us then was the product of consultation, and that is once again the case. Thirty-six formal and informal consultations were launched after Budget 2012 to shape policies legislated for in the Bill. We published more than 400 pages of draft legislation in December 2012, and received more than 400 replies.
The Government have also met interested parties throughout the year so that we could consider their views. I thank the individuals and organisations that took the time to consider the draft legislation and to assist the Treasury and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in preparing the Bill. It has already received a great deal of scrutiny, which I hope will complement the Committee’s work.
The Bill is a substantial one and we should not lose sight of the importance of the measures before us. The work may not necessarily always be exciting, but we are about to undertake an important process. The Bill implements major reforms to cut income tax for 24 million people; to boost competitiveness and attract investment; and to crack down on tax avoidance. It will make a difference to the country. It is an important Bill, and I look forward to some energetic debates over the weeks ahead.
Good morning, Mr Crausby. I, too, welcome you to the Chair. We have managed to get a strong turnout on both sides this morning, and it is good to see so many hon. Members in Committee. They should not regard their allocation as punishment for any behaviour of theirs. It is a great privilege and honour to serve on a Finance Bill Committee. I see their enthusiasm and how they relish the prospect of getting comfortable in their seats until well into the second half of June. We look forward to whiling away many happy days and hours with them.
It is interesting that the Minister singled out the hon. Member for Amber Valley in his welcome this morning. I notice that he has already tabled amendments and I think that there was a coded message to him: “Watch it; don’t push it too much.” However, I encourage all hon. Members to scrutinise the Bill in great detail. I am glad to be joined by my Front-Bench colleagues, my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North. We shall try our best to do justice to the Bill’s requirement for scrutiny.
You spoke, Mr Crausby, about how we shall deal with the stand part debates. You have already taken a firm approach to the grouping of debates on clause stand part and amendments. That is a very tight practice—there are no loose ends with debates on amendments and then separate stand part debates. I think that from time to time there is a need for discussion of a particular amendment, followed by debate on the general principle of a clause, but I do not want to question the wisdom of your firm approach, so far, to grouping.
It is curious that the programme motion has a three-week gap after Thursday’s sitting. That is a leisurely pace indeed, possibly because the Government have very little business going on elsewhere. Maybe the Queen’s Speech will be packed with tough and firm legislation that will have the country in absolute rapture. We will see what happens. We will have a three-week lead-in, but obviously circumstances might change during that period, requiring us to table further amendments by the time we get back. If a week is a long time in politics, heaven knows what could happen in three weeks.
As well as drawing the Committee’s attention to the interests that we have set out in the register, I ask for your guidance, Mr Crausby, on what might seem a small matter. The power outage, as the Americans might say, in Portcullis House is still with us this morning. I assure hon. Members that if they want their breakfast, the full cooking facilities are working on the ground floor, but in the offices of Opposition Members, whose job it is to try our best to keep track of what is going on, there are no computers, no printers and no screens on which to watch what is going on.
I do not wish to play my violin and look for sympathy, but there are 400-odd computers—they are odd—working well for the Treasury in Horse Guards road. I am sure that the Minister’s packs are full of paperwork this morning. It would be useful, Mr Crausby, if you could send a message to those responsible for the tripped electricity systems that it would be helpful to have our offices back on line. We have no problems with the old-fashioned paper-and-pen approach to scrutinising a Finance Bill, but it would be useful to have the system up and running. We do not have particular comments about the programming of the Bill other than that we look forward to working with you, Mr Crausby, and Mr Amess over the coming weeks.